Posttraumatic stress among women with HIV in Zambia
Objective: To examine whether HIV-positive women in Lusaka District, Zambia, displays a higher degree of PTSD-symptoms than a HIV-negative control group.
Method: The study targeted 50 HIV-positive women from four ART-clinics and 42 HIV-negative women from corresponding VCT-units. All sites were located in Lusaka District, Zambia. The HIV-positive women were compared with the control group in regard for PTSD, PTSD-symptoms, dissociative symptoms and history of traumatic experiences. The instruments used were PCL-C, DES-T and LYLES-A. Prior to the main study, the validity of the instruments were assessed with a pilot-sample.
Results: Three participants in the HIV-positive group fulfilled the criteria for clinical PTSD (10.7 %), as compared to none in the control group. The HIV-positive group also displayed a significantly higher degree of PTSD-symptoms and previous traumatic experiences, with strong effect sizes, but not for dissociative symptoms. The significant difference in PTSD-symptoms remained while trauma-history was controlled for.
Conclusions: The results of this study clearly indicates that women with HIV are vulnerable to PTSD and that contracting HIV in itself can constitute a psychological trauma in itself. Since PTSD among persons with HIV has been associated with transmission risk behaviours, reduced treatment adherence and a faster disease progression, these findings are important to consider in actions against HIV and AIDS.
It is condition of publication in the journal that the authors assign copyright to the Medical Journal of Zambia. To this effect all accompanying letters must contain the following statement. The authors being the sole and legitimate holder of the copyright hereby transfer it to Medical Journal of Zambia.